Friday, January 28, 2011

ATU Wants Transit Money Spent Now

The head of the Amalgamated Transit Union is not ready to give up his fight to convince the Port Authority of Allegheny County to stave off 15% service cuts in March. ATU Local 85 President Pat McMahon addressed the Port Authority Board this morning, and for the second month in a row he asked that it use up all of the money flexed to the authority by then governor Ed Rendell in this fiscal year rather than spreading it out over the next 18 months. By tripling the life of the funds, the authority will have to cut service by 15% as of March 27th. McMahon says the governor intended the authority to use all of the money up front to avoid any cuts. He says there should have been another round of public input before the decision was made last month. “Its too serious, there’s too many lives at stake, the public, we have taken the public out of this,” says McMahon, “I’m not going to get into legal issues, you have the moral responsibility to the public.”

In reaction, PAT CEO Steve Bland says the authority held extensive hearings on its plan to cut service by 35%. “At the point and time that we received [the flexed funds] there was not enough time to go through an exhaustive process,” says Bland, “all of the service reductions for March had already been covered.”

Bland believes putting off deeper cuts for an additional 12 months, gives lawmakers in Harrisburg a chance to find new revenues sources. McMahon says it takes the pressure off of those same lawmakers and sends a message that a smaller Port Authority is acceptable.

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